LOST: Christian convert loses appeal of prison sentences 18 months after arrest [#IranPersecution #ChristianPerscution] 09/24
#Iranian #Christian #convert Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, 65, has lost his #appeal against the two remaining #prison sentences issued to him earlier this year. His final hope is another #retrial, but even that won't prevent him being summoned to prison any day. https://t.co/RJ2bQlLdyS
— Article 18 (@articleeighteen) July 16, 2020
An Iranian Christian convert convicted of being a member of a “zionist” evangelical group has lost his appeal against 2 prison sentences he received earlier this year.
Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, a 65-year-old member of the Anglican Church, was informed last week that 2 of the 3 prison sentences he received earlier this year have been upheld while one has been overturned.
Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, was told last Sunday that the charge of insulting the sacred beliefs of Muslims had been overturned on appeal.
But last Wednesday, Maghrebinejad’s 2 sentences for “propaganda against the state” and “membership of a group hostile to the regime” were upheld.
Although the 3 sentences amounted to 6 years in prison, Maghrebinejad will likely only serve a two-year sentence for “membership of a hostile group.”
According to Article18’s Mansour Borji, it is striking that the Iranian government accused an Anglican pastor of membership in a group hostile to the state.
As the Islamic Republic ranks as one of the worst country’s in the world for Christian persecution, according to Mansour Borji:
“such blanket labeling is inaccurately applied to any Christian arrested for their religious activities, as the revolutionary courts try to justify their violations of religious freedom.”
Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was arrested at his home in January 2019.
Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was sentenced in January 2020 by a civil court in Shiraz to 3 years in prison under Article 513 of the Islamic penal code for insulting religious beliefs.
In February, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad was sentenced to an additional 2 years in prison for “membership of a group hostile to the regime” under Article 499 of the penal code.
According to Article 18, a court document identified the “hostile” group in question as being one that holds “evangelical zionist” Christian views.
In May, Judge Seyed Mahmood Sadati called for a retrial because he wanted to make some “corrections” due to his unhappiness with the initial verdict.
According to the nonprofit,the judge gave Ismaeil Maghrebinejad an even harsher sentence.
According to an earlier Article 18 update, the harsher sentence came because Ismaeil Maghrebinejad acknowledged that a Bible verse from the book of Philippians was sent to his cell phone by a satellite TV channel.
Farshid Rofoogaran, Ismaeil Maghrebinejad’s lawyer, argued in court that receiving text messages without forwarding them does not “constitute the membership of that organization.”
According to Ismaeil Maghrebinejad’s daughter, Mahsa, who now lives in the United States, her father is just a Christian who lives out his faith.
According to Mahsa, the family expected her father to be acquitted and that his continued imprisonment presents other concerns because her father is the sole caretaker for her unwell brother.
“I have never seen him do anything against the regime. He always respected people of other faiths, always respected the law.”
– Mahsa Maghrebinejad
The daughter stressed that her father has never been a member of any group that is against the regime.
“What kind of policy or law is that condemns someone like my father to prison for doing nothing more than being a Christian?”
– Mahsa Maghrebinejad
Earlier this month, it was reported that at least a dozen Iranian Christians were arrested across 3 cities.
In Iran, it is illegal for a Muslim to convert to Christianity.
Open Doors USA, a leading Christain persecution watchdog group that works in over 60 countries, labels Iran as the ninth-worst country in the world for Christian persecution.
Iran is also recognized by the U.S. government as a “country of particular concern” for engaging in egregious and systemic violations of religious liberty.
Christian converts regularly face the risk of being arrested just for attending house churches.
Open Doors USA reported in its 2020 annual report that 169 Christians were arrested in Iran during the organization’s 2019 reporting period — Nov. 1, 2018, to Oct. 31, 2019.
Iranian Christian convert loses appeal of prison sentences 18 months after arrest: